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Stoke City grabbed a place in the Third Round of the F.A.Women's Cup with a late winner in an exciting match against Copsewood (Coventry).
Emma Sanders scored an 88th minute goal to decide a close match between the two Midland Combination teams at Copsewood's Allard Way home. Having missed a penalty early on and conceded two soft goals , the visitors may feel that justice was eventually done but Copsewood were always in the match and could easily have won it themselves in an excellent second half which they dominated at times.
The opening minutes set the tone, with both teams trying to free their talented strikers with early passes from midfield. When Kate Asher was brought down as she burst into the box in the eighth minute, Stoke's Cassie Hyde put the penalty high and wide. Copsewood responded with Nicola Foskett and Jody McGuckin leading the threat on Susanne Marshall's goal.
Stoke took the lead on 21 minutes when good work from Kelly Pinner forced a corner which was flicked on by Sanders for Chantelle Ghallagher to nod in. Copsewood struck back immediately when a quickly taken free kick caught out the Potters defence and McGuckin steered the ball home from close range.
Stoke dominated the rest of the half, playing down the slope, with Pinner and Ghallagher strong in midfield and Sanders lively up front, hitting the side netting with a powerful shot when set up by Asher. Linzi Hewitt went close with a free kick turned away by Copsewood keeper Tash Smithers and with a header just over from the corner on 36 minutes.
Copsewood resumed with renewed determination after the break and got a quick boost when Lyndsey Breyton misplaced a back pass wide of the advancing Marshall and into her own net on 48 minutes. This lead was preserved by a superb Smithers save from a low Meg Bowyer strike and brave defending from Leona McCook, skipper Amanda Walley, Marsha Towey and Zoe Harley to foil dangerous Stoke attacks.
Foskett went close to extending Copsewood's lead on 61 minutes when foiled by a brave Marshall save but four minutes later it was Stoke who equalised when Sanders was put through and finished well from the edge of the area. Copsewood now poured forward and had their best spell of the match, having several attempts on goal, using the pace of Foskett and the skill of McGuckin to force openings and win corners but the Stoke defence held firm.
As extra time looked inevitable, a great goal settled a fine contest. Sanders controlled a through ball, then curled a 20-yard shot wide of the diving Smithers into the bottom left corner on 88 minutes to win the match.
The two teams provided an entertaining match with all the players showing great commitment. Both clubs are relatively new to Combination level - Copsewood, managed by Mick Conneely, having had a fine record last year and holding their own again despite losing players in the close season. Stoke are in their first season at this level, managed by Vicky Mitchell, and are making a real impact and now have the chance of an Cup run as a bonus.
Copsewood (Coventry): Tash Smithers, Marsha Towey, Heidi Sloan, Amanda Walley, Rebecca Green, Natasha White, Leona McCook, Zoe Harley, Rebecca Knight, Nicola Foskett, Jodie McGuckin. Subs: Katie George, Joanne Ryan, Chantelle Davis.
Stoke City: Suzanne Marshall, Holly Cowan, Cassie Hyde, Lynsey Breyton, Meg Bowyer, Kelly Pinner, Lucy Ridgeway, Chantelle Ghallagher, Linzi Hewitt, Emma Sanders, Kate Asher. Subs: Alice Langstone, Anna Loundes, Mel Hughes, Nicola Hudson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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